By Linda Burns
Linda Burns has over 15 years of experience as an Executive Assistant and PA in both the US and the UK, working for large international corporations as well as small businesses. She lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and their three cats.
We’ve all heard the stories about how someone’s online Facebook or MySpace profile ruined their job search or career. Derogatory statements posted about your job or wild photos from last weekend’s party could cost you more than you bargained for.
With good positions at a premium, how you present yourself online is just as important as a good CV or excellent job experience becayse today, computer-savvy hiring managers DO spend time Googling applicants to view their online profiles. Sometimes, though, recruiters and hiring managers can get mixed messages about job candidates based on their online profiles.
Your LinkedIn profile may highlight your professionalism and expertise in your field but your Facebook page may portray you as a wild child. To avoid this, keep your image consistent across all your networking sites. Save the party pictures for private messages to your closest friends and family and not for public viewing.
On the other hand, used wisely, a presnce on social media can improve your chances of landing your ideal job. Today job seekers are increasingly using social networking sites such as LinkedIn to find jobs, develop key contacts and advance their careers.
The "About You" section of your profile offers the perfect opportunity to briefly describe your work history, strengths and career achievements. This is where you can showcase yourself and where potential employers are likely to look first, so make sure your first impression is a good, professional one.
Build your LinkedIn network by joining groups that fit into your professional interests and visit your LinkedIn page frequently to keep it fresh and updated. Be sure to add links to your blog site, your web portfolio if you have one and anything else that is relevant to your career. Perhaps you have written an article for a client’s newsletter, or were a guest blogger on a website in your field of expertise – include links to those postings too.
Strategically use keywords in the "Tags" section. Similar to using keywords in a CV, this allows you to list words that help other people in your network or search engines find you. These words can include your area of expertise, job titles, industries, hobbies and anything else that defines you as a professional.
Just as there are plenty of things a person can do with their profile to help them stand out professionally in cyberspace, there are even more ways to derail yourself. For example, an almost fool-proof way to get fired is to post a picture of questionable taste. Don’t complain endlessly about your current employment situation – your boss is a nightmare, your co-workers are dimwits – you get the idea. Keep those thoughts to yourself, unless you are looking forward to standing in the unemployment line. Don’t embrace values that are in conflict with your employer’s values or the industry that you work in. Don’t brag about being terrible with money if you work in an accountancy firm.
Having a professional online identity is important to establish your credibility and personal brand, and can go a long way to attract the career or business opportunities that you seek.
Which social networking sites do you use and which are you joining in 2012? :)